OPINION: How to keep your employees happy

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With over a third (35%) of lingerie professionals admitting they are unhappy in their jobs in Lingerie Insight’s Job Satisfaction Survey last month, we question how employers can possibly keep morale up in the workplace. Helen Masters, founder of Pudding Retail Lingerie Training & Consultancy has the answers.

Any manager or business owner worth their salt knows that the key to a successful business – whether it’s a retailer, manufacturer, designer or marketing consultancy – is good people.

And the key to finding the best team to grow your business is recruiting staff with the right skill sets and attitude and, secondly, keeping those people engaged and productive.

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But this may be easier said than done. In an industry like ours, where it often feels like a world of increasing costs, falling revenues, squeezed margins and increasing pressures, the task can be challenging.

In fact, in a recent Job Satisfaction Survey conducted by Lingerie Insight (see page 22), 35% of lingerie professionals said they are unhappy in their jobs and a whopping 41% admitted they will be looking for a new job in 2017.

So what’s the answer? Well, we can’t simply throw money at the problem. As the Lingerie Insight survey shows, salary isn’t the only factor keeping employees happy. If it was, we’d all be working in banking and, as an ex banker, I know that people are leaving that industry in their droves!

More than half (56%) of respondents said they would change jobs if there was a chance for career progression, 18% would move for flexible working hours and 33% would like to receive more training in the workplace.

These points serve as a useful reminder that it is well within our abilities to retain good staff and maximise the performance of our businesses when times are tough, by looking after our best asset – our people. So how do we do that?

We need to D.E.L.I.V.E.R:

Develop – Nobody will put their best efforts into a job if they don’t have the correct skills or feel like they are stagnating. Improving your relationship with your employees means ensuring that they don’t just have a transactional approach (‘I work/I get paid’) and instead get something more. Offering job enrichment opportunities, such as training, will keep your employees happy and get them delivering more for your business.

Engage – A bored, detached employee is an unproductive employee. Engaging with your staff by understanding what makes them tick, playing to their strengths and giving them what they need as individuals (whether it’s more responsibility/flexible hours/a new challenge) will keep them on their toes. Also, allowing staff to solve the problems they identify is a great way of making them feel part of the business.

Listen – One of the biggest bugbears of any employee is that their boss doesn’t listen, or listens but doesn’t act on feedback. Let’s be honest, how many of us are genuinely open to our employees’ ideas or think we have all the right answers? Of course, employees will raise problems that are difficult to solve or ask for things that are not viable, but taking the time to explain why things are the way they are or why something can’t be done, while also making efforts to do some of the smaller things they ask for – like finally fixing the hooks in the changing room – will pay
dividends in getting staff to feel engaged and valued.

Involve – Giving your employees responsibility, delegating important tasks and providing adequate support will not only make your staff feel valued and motivated, but ensure a job is done more efficiently and effectively. You don’t have to deliver all the training or attend all the buying or supplier meetings yourself – make your life easier and enrich someone else’s job in the process by involving the team in key tasks. Then use your time to do the stuff that genuinely has to be done by you. International expansion anyone? Or put your feet up for a change!

Value – A simple ‘well done’ or ‘thank you, is often overlooked but goes a long way. The good news is that we can all find something to value in everyone every day, whether it’s the way they hoovered the changing room or the fact that they just landed a key account. So just say it – it’s that simple.

Encourage – A little incentive goes a long way. We all need that little extra push at times. Encouragement can come in the form of coaching, offering feedback, setting short-term challenges and introducing fun incentive schemes – it’s amazing how people will push themselves just to get a creme egg! Involve staff in coming up with
incentive ideas and have some fun with it.

Recognise & Reward – If you see a job well done, say so – and encourage others to do the same. Monetary reward needs to be in the right ballpark, but it isn’t enough on its own. Add an extra ‘R’ in the form of recognition and you are onto a winner.

Staff training and development can be another excellent way of recognising and rewarding staff – rewarding good performers with a structured career path, such as the one offered through the Lingerie Retail Development Programme provided by us at Pudding, is a real motivator.
Even smaller courses, such as our Advanced Bra Fitting course, pay off in dividends in staff productivity for less than £200.

So as you embark upon another lingerie season, it’s worth asking yourself – are you delivering enough to keep your employees happy and engaged?

If not, following these simple steps could be the most valuable activity you undertake this year.

>>> Helen Masters is the owner of Pudding Retail Lingerie Training & Consultancy and former owner of the successful lingerie and swimwear retailer Pudding. For further details regarding Pudding’s services, visit www.puddinglingerie.com.

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